New year, new you!
At least isn’t that what all the weight loss ads are screaming at you right now? At the end of December, my hubby always jokes about how busy the gym is going to be the following week. In fact, he usually takes that week off from going to the gym simply because the machines and the classes are crowded with well meaning folks trying to make self improvements. Unfortunately (I guess, fortunately for him), things return to normal by about the middle of January so he can resume his morning routine.
I’m not much for new year’s resolutions. Not because I don’t think I can improve on certain areas of my life, but rather because if the motivation for me to make a change is extrinsic, my chances of success are slim to none. Making an improvement because I genuinely want to, not because I’m being told to gets me a greater result. 😀
If you are ready to make some small changes to your diet, let’s do it together. These are the first few changes we made to our diet as we transitioned away from a diet that included many things that came out of a box. You don’t have to implement everything at once, start with whatever feels right first and proceed from there.
1. Cut out anything and everything that comes out of a box
Cutting out all processed foods is vital to improving your health. Refined flour and sugar are not your friend.
2. Take a probiotic
Hippocrates once said “all disease begins in the gut”. Maintaining a healthy gut is imperative to maintaining good health. A healthy human gut is populated by 100 trillion bacteria. That healthy bacteria is responsible for maintaining a healthy immune system, helping you digest your food, providing protection from food allergies, candida, IBS, eczema etc…There are many factors that can compromise this ideal balance including antibiotic use, poor diet, stress and infections etc… Probiotics are live microbial additions to the diet that repopulate the gut and restore balance. I’m often asked how to choose a quality probiotic. I always tell people to begin by going to a reputable health food store and look for:
- one that contains many strains (if you’re looking for a daily supplement this covers the bases)
- one with a high level of of probiotic microorganisms per gram (10 billion +)
- one that is free of additives and GMOs
- one that has a guaranteed concentration of microorganisms throughout its shelf life
As a side note: we also give each of our children a probiotic (or 2) daily with their breakfast. This is the brand we use.
3. Consume bone broth
During the winter months in particular, I have a pot of broth going weekly. Broth made from chicken, turkey, fish, beef (that has simmered min. 48 hours) has been traditionally prepared for centuries. Boiling bones not only utilizes every part of the animal but it also imparts vital gelatin, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals into your diet.
- Because broth is made by the breaking down of cartilage and tendons it also contains the vital chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine which are helpful for arthritis and joint pain.
- The gelatin content in the bone broth helps to heal your gut (ie. leaky gut) (read more about the benefits of gelatin here)
NB* For the best quality of bone broth, bones should come from traditionally fed, pastured animals. For example, beef should be grass fed and pastured, turkey and chicken should be pastured and allowed to peck at rocks, dirt and insects. Their diet should not consist of corn or soy or at the very least be GMO free. *beware of ‘chicken/vegetable’ and other store bought stocks as they are not properly prepared and contain msg. source).
4. Increase your Vitamin C intake
Vitamin C usually comes to mind when someone has a cold or eats an orange, but in reality this vitamin is vital to our well being. It is a water soluble antioxidant that benefits your heart, cholesterol levels, immune system, growth and repair of your tissues etc.. Even the Mayo Clinic acknowledges its benefit when it comes to improved moods! Ideally vitamins should be consumed through food with the quality of the food being imperative (ie. organic). Contrary to popular belief however, an orange containing approx. 70 mg of vitamin C is not the fruit with the highest content of this vitamin…black currants on the other hand contain 203 mg/cup!
Recommended daily allowances vary, and even the most idilic diet may fall short so our family takes a daily supplement to ensure that we are getting enough. When choosing a vitamin C supplement look for one that is food sourced like this, it comes from the camu berry. There are countless vitamin c supplements on the shelves of health food stores many of which claim ascorbic acid as their source. Ascorbic acid is not vitamin C. It is but one component of vitamin C that has been isolated. In taking this, your body must draw the other required components of vitamin C from your tissue. If they are not available, the ascorbic acid will be secreted through your urine.
5. Consume fermented drinks and food
Traditional societies consumed fermented food and drink daily. Fermented food and drinks double up on what a good probiotic does – repopulate your gut with good bacteria. Sauerkraut may be one of the most recognized fermented foods, but sadly 98% of the sauerkraut sold in stores is not actually fermented. Fermented foods take time and should not include cheater ingredients like vinegar.
If you’re not ready to make your own sauerkraut there are reputable brands that I give my family, that are found in the cooler of your health food store. Fermented beverages like Kombucha assist with digestion, inflammation, detoxification and general gut health. Brewing your own kombucha is easy but requires a starter culture, called a scoby. Check your health food store for authentically brewed options. Other examples of fermented beverages are: kombucha, kefir, beet kvass and rejuvelac (more on these in a future post).
6. Add fermented cod liver oil to your day
Cod liver oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids but fermented cod liver oil has the added benefit of being high in vitamins D and A. Fermented cod liver was consumed long before modern extracting methods were developed. Our ancestors, from the Romans to the South Sea Islanders, used all parts of fish including the liver and gall bladder which they fermented and prized.
Most brands on the shelves of health food stores are refined and heated which greatly damages its benefits and there are brands that re-add a synthetic vitamin D to restore what was damaged in the processing. We give this brand to our children (and ourselves) daily. Not gonna lie, the taste is quite pungent, but my kids are so used to it that my 2 year old comes running to me shouting “fish oil! fish oil!” when he sees me dipping a spoon into the jar and then asks for more!
University of Maryland Medical Center
*I am neither a health care practitioner nor an MD by trade. I am a mom who researches A LOT. Do consult your health care provider before making any changes to your diet.
The post is also shared with: Natural Living Mamma, A Life in Balance, Homegrown and Healthy, Our 4 Kiddos, Healthy Roots Happy Soul, Real Food Forager, Not Just a Housewife, Tessa the Domestic Diva, Thank Your Body, Domesblissity, Food Renegade, Small Footprint Family, Natural Family Today